University of South Carolina

"Caravel" celebrates student discovery

By Jeff Stensland,, 803-777-3686

David Corso is upfront about his initial reasons for getting involved in an undergraduate research project about cognitive gaming.

“It was the money and the prestige of an award,” said Corso, a senior biology major who had secured a Magellan Scholar grant to fund his project. “It was about, ‘Oh cool, I get to work on this project, get paid for it and it’ll look good for whatever I go into doing.’”

Somewhere along the way, as he delved deeper into the project, his motivation changed. “It ended up evolving into ‘It’s what I do know; it’s what I investigate; it’s what I care about.’ It literally took a life of its own.”

Corso’s research -- along with that of eight other undergraduates -- is showcased in “Caravel,” the new online undergraduate research journal that launches Friday (April 26, 2013). The publication’s mission goes beyond sharing compelling research findings. It also celebrates the pure joy of new discoveries, which is fitting since it takes its name from the swift sailing ships that roamed the seas during the Age of Discovery.

Julie Morris, director of undergraduate research at USC, said “Caravel” offers a unique opportunity for students to share their work with audiences beyond the confines of a classroom.

“It provides both a venue for our students in all disciplines to publish their work in a professional forum and a gateway to broadcast the amazing work of our undergraduates to the Carolina community and beyond,” she said.

True to its namesake, "Caravel" highlights research from a broad spectrum of disciplines across the USC system. And unlike most academic journals, it also features videos and music along with the traditional articles.

Prakash Nagarkatti, USC's vice president for research, said the online journal is a perfect complement to other outlets available to undergraduate researchers at USC.

"We have a fantastic undergraduate research funding program in Magellan Scholars, but lacked an appropriate mechanism for students to showcase their work beyond Discovery Day. "Caravel" gives us that," Nagarkatti said.

All of the students featured in the inaugural edition also worked with faculty mentors throughout their research projects. Christopher Johnson, a public relations major from USC Upstate, worked with history professor Bobby Donaldson for his research on media portrayals of African-American romance in the media. He said the mentoring process was invaluable.

“He made sure that I was able to answer things,” Johnson said. “It was good having a person challenge me in that way and make sure I didn’t become complacent through the whole process. It really sharpened my ability to articulate my ideas and respond to the challenging questions.”

Several of the students featured in “Caravel,” including Johnson and Corso, plan to attend graduate school and view the publication as the beginning rather than the culmination of their journey.

“It’ll definitely be good to get my ideas out to other people, academic people, and have more of a chance that it’ll get seen,” Corso said.  “Which means there’s more of a chance that someone will come talk to me about a similar idea, or a conflicting idea, and help elaborate the subject more since there’s still a lot more to find out.”

The seven published works include:

Learning About Learning: Cognitive Gaming as a Technology of the Self. Student: David Corso, biology and psychology. Mentor: Simon Tarr, media arts

Maternal Depressive Symptoms Predicting Development of Internalizing Behavior Problems in Boys with Fragile X Syndrome Students: Sara Deal, psychology, and Mary Blair Dellinger, psychology/neuroscience. Mentor: Jane Roberts, psychology

Where’s The Love: Portrayals of African-American Romantic Relationships in the Media Student: Christopher Johnson, public relations/Spanish, USC Upstate. Mentor: Bobby Donaldson, history

Replacing Sugar with Artificial Sweeteners: Is the Replacement of Sugar with Artificial Sweeteners an Effective Strategy for Weight Loss? Student: Margaret McCoy, nursing, USC Aiken. Mentor: Iris Walliser, nursing, USC Aiken

Southern Style (a selection of poems). Student: Cynthia Parker, English. Mentor: Tara Powell, English language and literature

What in the Fukushima Should We Do? Analyzing the Costs of the Fukushima Daiichi Disaster and Japan’s Reactions. Student: Adam Port, chemistry, USC Aiken. Mentor: Kevin Elliott, philosophy

Learning Standards Developments. Students: James Strickland, history and political science, and Christofer Johnson, history and English. Mentor: Dorothy Pratt, history

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Posted: 04/26/13 @ 12:00 AM | Updated: 04/25/13 @ 4:34 PM | Permalink